Book Review – Murach’s Beginning Java With NetBeans

Murach’s Beginning Java with NetBeans book examines all aspects of Java in detail with the help of NetBeans IDE. The book is divided into five sections. The first chapter provides a brief overview of Java and NetBeans. You will learn the steps involved to write Java code including usage of classes and methods. In Chapter 4, you will learn the process involved to write your own classes and methods in detail.

You will learn the steps required to structure an object oriented application in Chapter 5. The final chapter in section 1 examines the process associated with testing and debugging an application.

Section 2 examines the usage of primitive types, operators, strings, arrays in addition to control statements with the help of code samples. The chapters in section 3 provide a detailed overview of the usage of Inheritance, Interfaces, Inner classes, Enumeration and documentation.

Section 4 examines the usage of collections, generics, lambdas, data and time. You will also learn the steps required to handle exceptions in addition to working with Input/Output and threads.

You will learn the steps associated with the usage of MySQL database including JDBC in section 5. The last two chapters of section 5 examine the development of GUI using Java Swing. The book includes two appendixes which covers the aspects related to installation of Java in both Windows and Mac OS X.

Each chapter ends with a section named perspective and also includes bulleted summary. I very much liked the way in which the authors have presented the summary. Readers will be able to quickly learn the facts.

The includes exercise questions in numbered format which prompts you to do specific actions. You need to read each line to complete the exercises as stated till the final step. From my point of view, these questions will help students to grasp knowledge quickly.

In order to complete the exercises you need to download samples from the official website of the publisher. Murach also provides an Instructor CD which will have PowerPoint slides, MCQ’s and much more.

I would like to see a separate chapter on the development of mobile apps using Java. The book will be very useful for those developers who are well versed with the basic concepts of Java programming. Pure beginners will find it difficult since the authors have examined the concepts using NetBeans. However, they will be able to make use of the book after gaining fundamental knowledge in Java.

No doubt, Beginning Java with NetBeans by Murach Publishing is an excellent companion for students. Instructors can make use of the book to impart training. Moreover, companies can keep a copy of the book on their shelves for reference purposes.

The Power of Vision by George Barna: A Book Review

George Barna is the founder of The Barna Group, a marketing research company. Barna has written other books about leadership and church growth, such as, The Power of Team Leadership and Grow Your Church from the Outside In, however Barna stated in the introduction to The Power of Vision that he had never before, “had a book that seemed to be written through me rather than by me.” In this book, Barna stresses the importance for pastors and church leadership to discover God’s vision for their ministry and the church. Although, “vision” is a popular topic both in business and in church administration, Barna states that few churches, believers or even senior pastors have an understanding of God’s vision for ministry. This book contains simple, direct principles for discovering God’s vision, for casting the vision and helping others catch it and for implementing the vision for the glory of God.

Barna’s main purpose in writing The Power of Vision is to challenge pastors and leaders to discover God’s vision for their ministry and then to develop and implement the vision. In this writer’s opinion, Barna does a good job of accomplishing the intended purposes of the book. Barna defines “vision” as, “a clear mental image of a preferable future imparted by God to His chosen servants and is based upon an accurate understanding of God, self and circumstances.” He then breaks the definition down into four more detailed components: A clear mental image; a preferable future; a future focus; an impartation by God. Throughout the book, Barna refers to the different components of this definition but he continually stresses the most important component; vision is imparted by God.

Barna also paints a clear picture of a visionary leader by listing the requirements for catching God’s vision and describing the characteristics of a visionary. Vision requires knowing God, knowing self, and understanding circumstances such as needs, opportunities and barriers. Visionary pastors have, “an urgent need to seek god’s glory by doing His work, His way, according to His vision.” It is common for leaders to confuse mission with vision so Barna emphasizes the difference between a mission statement and a vision statement. A mission statement defines ministry and outlines the objectives. It is a general statement about what the church hopes to accomplish. A vision statement is, “specific, detailed, customized, distinctive and unique to a given church.” The vision statement puts the ministry objectives into action. There are many myths related to the development of vision so Barna list twenty of the most common myths and dispels these with the reality of true vision.

The book also goes into great detail to discuss the benefits to having vision and also covers the barriers and cost to implementing the vision. Most importantly, Barna reminds leaders that the vision should be God centered and not based on personal abilities because “man’s vision is flawed”. The values and desires of the leader must align with the heart of God. A vision produced by God will be perfect, blessed, and inspired and it has only one goal, which is to glorify Him.

The things about this book that I consider to be strengths are first of all, it is easy to read. The book is short and it written in simple language instead of being filled with confusing jargon. Second, the book gives detailed, precise information in a very direct, straight forward manner. Third and most important, Barna gives God the glory for the inspiration for this book.

Anyone with a serious desire to be an effective leader will look for ways to enhance their skills but few people have time to wade through large books cluttered with technical, confusing jargon. Barna offers relevant information in a simple format. Although the book is reasonably short in length, it is not short on substance. Barna begins with a definition of vision that helps to bring a better understanding of what “vision” truly means. Vision is having a clear idea, or picture in one’s mind of the future that they prefer. However, the key to vision is that it must be God’s vision given to a leader rather than just the preferred future that an individual may have for the church. All pastors want the best for their church and may have grand ideas and plans for the future but only God’s plans for the future will succeed. Barna not only explains the process of catching, casting and implementing vision, he also provides information about common misconceptions regarding vision. In chapter three, Barna explains the difference between vision and mission because the two are often confused. He then corrects twenty of the most common myths about vision. It is often easier to understand how to do something correctly if one first understands what they were doing incorrect.

Although, I am not a pastor, nor am a in a leadership position in a church, I enjoyed reading The Power of Vision. Anyone seeking for direction regarding God’s call for them in ministry should read this book. As a part of the body of Christ, all Christians have a purpose and a work to do within the ministry. Discovering God’s vision for life and ministry is important for all of God’s people. It is especially important for pastors because they are called to lead the flock. Having a clear vision imparted by God will give pastors direction to lead effectively. This book is inspiring and challenging and would make a valuable addition to any pastor’s library.

BIBLIOGRAPY

Barna, George. The Power of Vision. 3rd ed. Ventura, CA: Regal/Gospel Light, 2009.

Amazon Introduces "iTunes for Books"

Amazon has announced an upcoming program called Pages. I think of it as “iTunes for books.” Pages will allow customers to download sections of books, or even individual pages, for a small fee per page.

The specifics (including pricing) have not been announced, but here are some examples of how it might work:

You want a recipe for Chocolate Nut Bread, but don’t want the entire cookbook. You go to Amazon.com and download just that one recipe for $.35.

You need to know how to create forms in Dreamweaver, and the reference book you have doesn’t tell you exactly what you need to know. You find another book on Amazon that has just what you need. You download the chapter on forms for $2.00.

You love one of the short stories in an anthology, but not the rest. You download that one story for $.95.

Would you have purchased the books if the download option had not been available? Maybe, but probably not. This is an opportunity for publishers to increase profits by slicing-and-dicing content to meet the needs of customers. Just as music fans can go to iTunes and buy the one or two songs they like instead of paying for the entire CD, readers will be able to customize their content and get exactly what they want.

Start thinking now about how this will affect the structure of what you write. Could you create a book that works as a whole, but also can be sold in pieces? How does that affect pricing?

Is this a good thing for authors and publishers? I think it is, but it probably doesn’t matter if you or I like the idea. This is where we are headed. If you are a content provider, you can embrace what is coming or you can hide your head in the sand and hope it goes away. The music industry tried that for a while, and it did not work out very well for them. Apple saved them from themselves.

Amazon.com is embracing the future of publishing and content delivery. I plan to be on the ground floor as both a reader and a publisher.

Book Review: The Anatomy of Influence, by Harold Bloom

Harold Bloom started reading great poets as a young child. Not every ten-year-old can claim to become possessed by the poetry of Hart Crane, and not every reader of poetry goes on to commit hundreds and hundreds of great poems to memory. It is this very fact that makes Harold Bloom's huge literary consciousness so endlessly fascinating. Reading and memorizing great works of literature is like a kind of oxygen to Bloom.

Bloom is now eighty years of age, still teaching and holding study groups on the great writers and their work. For Bloom, we learn, teaching others is also a process of teaching oneself; literary insights and perspectives are exchanged back and forth between professor and student in a process of cross fertilization. It is no wonder then that Bloom insists on describing himself as a "common reader". No professional title or accolades are needed to absorb the wonders of great literature, only a love of reading.

Ostensibly, The Anatomy of Influence reprises a perennial theme of Bloom's work: the struggle writers have against the influences that form them when trying to create their own individual voices. Tolstoy may have railed against Shakespeare's King Lear, but ended his days in a very Lear like fashion. Page 200 explains in more detail:

"Once again, influence anxiety, as I have seen it, takes place between poems, and not between persons. Temperament and circumstances determine whether or not a later poet feels anxiety at whatever level of consciousness. All that matters for interpretation is the revisionary relationship between poems, as manifested in tropes, images, diction, syntax, grammar, metric, poetic stance. "

A Fascinating Journey to the Center of Literary Consciousness

The Anatomy of Influence is subtitled Literature as a Way of Life , and it very much mixes these two themes. Bloom rambles pleasantly along, dropping names by the dozen. It is these references to poet-friends that gives the book an autobiographical aspect. Literary criticism for Bloom is not just about the reader and the written word, but also about conversations, discussions and disagreements with poets and writers about the complex and deep interrelationships between writers and their work. Again, The Anatomy of Influence is fascinating as a journey to the center of Bloom's literary consciousness. Much of the discussion is complex and deep, but as always with Harold Bloom, he doesn't write for a specialist audience.

While many of the themes and concepts may be difficult to grasp, often demanding deep concentration, Bloom's prose always has an intriguingly light feel to it. As mentioned earlier, there are tantalising snippets of autobiography in this book. A follow up volume that concentrates more on Bloom's literary friendships, and how they have influenced him, let's say a literary autobiography, would be an exciting prospect. As it stands, The Anatomy of Influence mixes a modest amount of autobiography with enormous amounts of Bloom's capacious literary consciousness. It makes the book a rich treat that must be digested slowly and with care.

The Anatomy of Influence , by Harold Bloom. Published by Yale University Press. ISBN: 978-0-300-16760-3

Book Review of "Back to Normal"

In his book "Back to Normal", Enrico Gnaulati explores a topic which I'm sure many of us have pondered as parents. As a child psychologist himself, he has an inside glimpse of what is expected from doctors by the insurance industry and pharmaceutical companies.

Enrico cites lack of proper training and pressure for a quick fix as two sources of the confusion. Psychiatrists hand out the medication and psychologists do the counseling. They are generally not put together as a team. The first source of concern is usually a referral given by the teacher at school to have a child evaluated. The parents contact a psychiatrist who gives the medication prescription and the child is under control without further investigation as to what may be causing the behavior.

If a family is willing to stick it out, counseling over a long period of time may get to the root of the problem without the need for medication. In today's hurried lifestyle, parents are unable to take time off from work for a counseling session. Children are pushed into so much activity through the schools and extra-curricular activities that there is no time to talk.

I have thought of two other examples that were not mentioned in the book. The first is the possibility of a neurological or medical condition. Doctors usually hand out medication at the first mention of behavior and that's the end of it.

The second example was when my son was in fourth grade. The teacher advised me to have him assessed, stating that he was too pre-occupied with "Power Rangers". I was thinking, "Yeah, as is every other fourth grade boy who watches cartoons and before that it was" Ninja Turtles "and before that something else. Next year it will be the latest craze." At that time, the school also banned trading of "Pokemon" cards. That was the stupidest thing I've ever heard. It's a cartoon which now, no one even cares about.

Trying to be a responsible parent, I complied and made an appointment. I was upset when after going to the first appointment, the insurance company went bankrupt and I was turned over to collections for a $ 200.00 bill in which we did absolutely nothing but fill out the new patient paperwork. I later found out that if a school asks you to get evaluated, they have to pay for it.

Each family has to work through what is needed in their scenario. For some, it is a truly needed resource. However, before using medication as the first solution, do a little research and explore all the options.

Audio Book Rental Is A New And Interesting Concept

The renting of audio books is a relatively new concept. It first started in the seventies through the use of cassette tapes. It has grown in amazing proportions over the past few decades. The idea in the beginning, was to make more much more accessible to busy people, and once businesses caught on, there was a surprising growth of rental outlets. In every town and city, public libraries began offering audio book rental.

Because Of More Demand, More Outlets Are Supplying

The concept actually had to keep up with the theory of supply and demand. As more people began enjoying their favorite books audibly, more companies were needed to keep up with the supply. It was then that such rental companies began to flourish. Then through the help of the internet, numerous sites began to develop and huge masses of internet visitors caused this business become amazingly popular. It allowed people to subscribe and download books which had been made into public domain.

As these companies began, they were only able to offer a few choice selections of recorded books at first. Since it was normally not possible to find good fiction or non-fiction works available, these companies grew like wild fire. A lot can be said of those who may wish to develop this type of online audio book rental business. It can offer people a large range of audio books and tapes, as well as CDs, that can be rented, instead of having to be purchased.

Audio book rental companies may charge their customers differently. From one company to another, the prices and terms of use will differ. This requires that you do comparison shopping before choosing a company that is able to meet your needs. Their costs can differ as well. Other things you may want to consider, are the company's rental time period and return method. There are some companies that will even give you a free trial offer. Consider all these points as you choose a rental company that is good for you.

If you're familiar with renting DVDs, then you will already understand, more or less, what to expect when joining an audio book rental club. It works much the same way. There are also many companies that locate their rental books in important places such as off a main interstate at many travel centers, where people who are traveling, are more likely looking to rent one, instead of purchasing one.

In our modern days of rapid technology, it would be to your advantage to learn more about the concept of listening to books, instead of reading them. Knowing how to rent audio books online is sure to provide many benefits. One main concern with the wonderful availability of renting one, is that you may possibly not have enough time to listen to all you desire. It might be a good idea to download the audio book, and then in a time that is most convenient for you, be able to listen to it.

A Book Review of – Best Hikes With Dogs New Hampshire and Vermont

Best Hikes With Dogs New Hampshire & Vermont

By Lisa Densmore

2005 – The Mountaineers Books

paperback 253 pages

Guidebook / New England / Hiking

Any dog ‚Äč‚Äčloving hiker who lives in or plans to visit New Hampshire or Vermont would do well to consult this book by an Emmy award winning television producer and writer, Lisa Densmore. The author gives first hand accounts of each of the 52 trails that she writes about in this very informative guide to some of the best trails in New England.

I couldn't think of any information that the author left out. There is an easy to use table at the beginning of the book. The Hike Summary Table covers the following subjects,
1. Hike 5 miles or less,
2. Open summit,
3. Mountain views,
4. Fire tower or viewing platform,
5. Ledges or cliffs,
6. Long ridge walk,
7. River, lake, or pond,
8. Waterfall,
9. Dog friendly shelter or campsite,
10. Good for senior dogs,
11. For fit dogs only.

The table includes all 52 trails / hikes that are covered in more detail later in the book. Along with information and tips specific to each trail, Ms. Densmore has also included lots of photos and maps. While hiking each trail she met fellow hikers with dogs and has included some of their photos as well.

Along with the description of each hike by the author who hiked each trail with her loyal companion, Bravo, a Chesapeake Bay Retriever, there are sections with information on the subject of hiking with your dog including subheadings of Getting Ready, Should Your Dog Go Hiking ?, Fit For the Trail, Dog-mas, Leave No Trace, Hiker Responsibility Code, Ten Canons of Trail Etiquette, and Good Dog Sense.

The next section covers the essentials including, Gear, Canine First Aid, Wildlife Encounters, and Weather. At the end of the book, as well as an index, you'll find a list of resources and contacts. Even if you never plan on going on a hike on any of the trails mentioned in this book, it is an interesting and fun book to read. The descriptions of the trails and the pleasures of hiking with a canine companion are a good read.

This was an easy to use guide that I found very helpful and I'm sure that if you plan on taking your dog along on your next hike, you'll want to consult this very well thought out guide first. Definitely a four star book.

The "Baby Mama Syndrome": Book Review

Robert Doyel is worried about the babies born to single mothers – so worried, in fact, that he's written a book about the problem. His perspective is an unusual one: He spent 16 years as a Florida judge, mostly in family court, where he was involved in more than 15,000 restraining order cases, as well as thousands of dependency, custody, and paternity cases.

What worries him so much, he says, is that "there is no concerted effort anywhere even to report on the issue, let alone try to do something about it." His concerns about "the prevalence of unwed births and identifying the problems they cause" led him to write The Baby Mama Syndrome (Lake Cannon Press).

This book is an eye-opener, exploring the problem of these "fragile families" from multiple angles, including the problems of abuse, neglect, and violence. Social workers, teachers, physicians, nurses, and other professionals who deal with these children and their parents will be interested in the sheer size of the problem (1.6 million babies each year) and the demographic data in this book.

Doyel notes that the birthrate for teenagers has been creeping down for several years, but the numbers are still daunting: In 2014, just over a quarter of a million babies were born to girls 19 and under. There were 2771 births to girls under 15, and most of these young mothers were unmarried.

Despite the widespread assumption that most of these single mothers are black, statistics show that unmarried white mothers have the most babies, followed by Hispanics and then blacks.

His thoughtful and well-researched book makes an important contribution to the national discussion about these babies, their mothers, and what happens as the children grow up and – all too-often – repeat the syndrome. Three features of the book are especially impressive.

Case Studies

This book offers many cases studies grouped in patterns: female rivals, fathers married to another woman, mothers married to another man, lesbian couples, and more – to name a few. There are also triangles, rectangles, and serial troublemakers. One chapter deals with a complex pattern that Doyel calls "Baby Mama and Boyfriend vs. Baby Daddy and Husband."

Reading through the permutations and complications creates a picture of the problem that mere data cannot provide – and also opens a window into the causes. "Baby mamas" threaten and attack rival women who have had multiple babies by the same "baby daddy." Married women and "baby mamas" battle over a "baby daddy" who has fathered their children.

Readers gradually become familiar with the reasons why these women keep having babies by men who won't marry or support them: Jealousy, poor impulse control, unrestrained sexuality, and an inability to get a grip on their lives and their futures. The real victims, of course, are their children.

Legal Issues

Doyel's second contribution to the "baby mama" discussion is his perspective as a judge. Laymen often think it's easy to make a judgment in cases of violence and abuse: Issue a restraining order. Put him (or her, or everyone involved) in jail.

Writing from years of experience on the bench, he exposes some of the legal complexities a judge must deal with. "As far as the law is concerned," he writes, "violence between two baby mamas or between two baby daddies is no different from violence between two strangers in a barroom brawl. That needs to change."

Restraining orders have complexities of their own. According to Doyel, "Too many times when there is mutual aggression, one of the aggressors seeks an injunction and then uses it as a sword, not a shield."

Mutual restraining orders seem to be called for, but they're prohibited in Florida (where he served as a judge) because of another potential problem: Judges might be tempted to employ them as a way to avoid having to making a judgment in a complicated domestic violence case. Result: A conundrum for a judge dealing with rival "baby mamas" fighting over the man who fathered their children.

One feature of these "baby mama" hearings is especially poignant: In his experience, Doyel says, the fathers rarely show up for hearings. Staying away from court, he says, keeps the women focused on each other rather than on their baby daddy's betrayal of both of them.

And then there are petitions, ex parte temporary injunctions, and other legal complexities – and the thinking processes judges use to hand down decisions in these "baby mama" cases. Doyel's jargon-free explanations of various legal issues make this book especially valuable for professionals who intervene in crises involving "baby mamas" and their children.

Taxpayers

The subtitle to Doyel's book makes it clear that the baby mama syndrome affects everyone : "Unwed Parents, Intimate Partners, Romantic Rivals, and the Rest of Us." Taxpayers pay medical bills, court costs, and other expenses for baby mamas and their children.

The most important victims, of course, are the children, who may be subjected to neglect, abuse, and violence. Even when there are no physical dangers, many of these children witness violent behavior between the adults who are supposed to serve as their role models.

"Cut off the money" is the battle cry of taxpayers who want single parents to take responsibility for the choices they have made. But two chapters in Doyel's book argue that the problem is not solved so easily.

In "Generations," he discusses what happens when children in "fragile families" grow up. "It is well documented," he says, "that sons of fathers who commit acts of domestic violence are likely to be batterers too." But the syndrome does not stop there. Studies show that child abuse, neglect, and baby mama rivalries also pass from generation to generation.

In his final chapter, "The Baby Mama Syndrome and the Rest of Us," Doyel discusses remedies, including prevention, sex education, and contraception. He has promised two more books that will expand upon these topics. Book two will focus on violence, and book three will discuss the fate of the children who grow up in these "fragile families."

The Baby Mama Syndrome is a readable and thought-provoking book. It will be particularly useful to professionals who deal with these "fragile families."

Critical Book Review: Miller’s Bolt by Thomas Stirr

The use of parables has become quite common for many writers and story tellers. In this book, the author, Thomas Stirr, employs a story to illustrate his main point that change comes from within each individual.

What was interesting is the story was easy to read and for many people could quickly relate to the experiences of Jim Manion, the main character, who is at a crossroads of his life, but he knows and yet doesn’t know it.

With so many books on personal development, organizational effectiveness and change management, the story is quite refreshing in how it addresses these issues along with a few more such as collaborative teamwork, professional and personal relationships. Additionally, by creating a focus on the personal life of the main character and having that infused into his professional life brings realism lacking in some other business books that also employed the use of parables.

For me, having read this book after being a small business owner for the last 15 years, I could identify with much of what was written especially when I worked in corporate arena. Now through my own personal development, much of what was shared is quite valid and appropriate even if today’s conference room uses PowerPoint instead of transparencies.

Change comes from within and it is a matter of how each of us perceives our world and those within our various communities. That perception comes with a bias usually negative or positive. Retaining a neutral bias is very difficult. Yet the author provides some great tips from the character of a good friend who is also an independent psychologist with a practice focusing on improving workforce productivity.

In many parables the character development is presumed, weak or takes an enormous amount of time, ink and paper to develop. This was not the case in this book. Very quickly the reader could identify not only with the main character but the other supporting characters.

As the story proceeded, turning each page was easier and easier. Additionally, the inclusion of practical skills such as visualization and affirmations supported the reader who might also be seeking some new strategies for improving his or her own life.

To give the storyline away would ruin the essence of the message within this book. For those who want to deal with negative individuals to just taking their interactions and consequently performance to that next level, Miller’s Bolt just might support those efforts.